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Quynh Tran

Shade and Breeze

This is the story of Má and Hieu.

Má dreams about wealth and grandeur, Hieu dreams about the pretty girls. Then there is also the second son, the younger brother, always in the periphery, always an observer. He gradually disappears into his schoolwork, mesmerised by his own astonishing intelligence.

The three of them form a solitary world in the small Ostrobothnian town. Má and Hieu, constantly on a collision course with each other and the community’s suffocating social codes. They live among people who want to talk openly about everything, who don’t understand the necessity of focus and shade.

Shade and Breeze is Quynh’s Tran’s evocative and poignant debut novel – a story about love, obsession and the meaning of family.

WINNER OF SVENSKA YLE’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

WINNER OF THE RUNEBERG PRIZE 2022

WINNER OF BORÅS TIDNING’S DEBUTANT PRIZE 2022

SHORTLISTED FOR THE KATAPULT PRIZE 2022

Quynh Tran was born in 1989 and grew up in Jakobstad in Finnish Ostrobothnia. He now resides in Malmö where he works as a psychologist. Tran is a graduate of the acclaimed Biskops Arnö Writing School. His literary debut Shade and Breeze was recently awarded Svenska Yle’s Literature Prize and is currently shortlisted for the prestigious Runeberg…

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About the book

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Denmark: Turbine, Finland: Förlaget (Swedish), Finland: Teos (Finnish), France: Le Castor Astral, Germany: Residenz Verlag, Norway: Oktober, UK & Commonwealth: Lolli Editions, Vietnam: Bebooks

This is the story of Má and Hieu.

Má dreams about wealth and grandeur, Hieu dreams about the pretty girls. Then there is also the second son, the younger brother, always in the periphery, always an observer. He gradually disappears into his schoolwork, mesmerised by his own astonishing intelligence.

The three of them form a solitary world in the small Ostrobothnian town. Má and Hieu, constantly on a collision course with each other and the community’s suffocating social codes. They live among people who want to talk openly about everything, who don’t understand the necessity of focus and shade.

Shade and Breeze is Quynh’s Tran’s evocative and poignant debut novel – a story about love, obsession and the meaning of family.

WINNER OF SVENSKA YLE’S LITERATURE PRIZE 2021

WINNER OF THE RUNEBERG PRIZE 2022

WINNER OF BORÅS TIDNING’S DEBUTANT PRIZE 2022

SHORTLISTED FOR THE KATAPULT PRIZE 2022

Reviews

A magic voice.

A magic voice. Working with the coming-of-age in a smalltown narrative Quynh Tran creates a world completely of its own kind, a story of belonging and estrangement, and of the refugee experience. In a sensual, dreamy prose, still so very real, with an authority reminiscent of Ocean Vuongs On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Quynh Tran has written a first novel that shines like a precious gem.

Monika Fagerholm, Author of THE AMERICAN GIRL and WHO KILLED BAMBI
It is clever, accomplished and suggestive

Pre-pubescent freedom and the sense of adventure, and the seemingly boundless access to time, compromised by the incomprehensible but highly substantial threats consisting of older siblings’ persistent sexualities and the adult world’s social and financial rigours. That is the framework of several coming-of-age escapades – Stand by Me, Stranger Things, most things Ray Bradbury has written – but with debut author Quynh Tran, born 1989, we will have to wait in vain for the monsters to appear: he is completely reliant on atmosphere and subtext. And he is unarguably deft at building a mood, after a while the reader can navigate both the small apartment and the forest where the blueberry-picking begin to take a more alarming sensual shape. He is also excellent at implying that there really is a subtext, that the reader, just like the narrator, shall keep searching the unspoken for signs of hidden drama /… / It is clever, accomplished and suggestive.

Svenska Dagbladet
Shade and Breeze gains momentum through its penetration of a state, rather than a spectacular course of events

Quynh Tran manages to see the world from a young child’s viewpoint without it ever feeling juvenile. The days of boredom quickly become magical thanks to small oscillations. Shade and Breeze gains momentum through its penetration of a state, rather than a spectacular course of events. The little brother is receptive, lives his life as a detective in the shadows, pays attention to the things that the others don’t see. Such as Hieu’s pencil being covered in bite marks – something is wrong. Through his imagination he visits the places he is not admitted to. His mum, auntie and big brother venture into the forest and there begins the huge task of mapping out the events. The episodes from school are particularly remarkable, portrayed with low-key humour. Every misstep shall be highlighted and ridiculed, like when someone mispronounces a word: Cátastrophe! Sometimes I am transformed into a citizen of the smalltown. I want to drag the characters into the sun, gain access to their inner lives and examine them. But the author is patient and leaves me in the shade, until it also becomes my situation of normality. It is a perceptive debut, where the significant events are placed in the background on purpose, in accordance with the family’s wishes. Not everything should be discussed, claims the mother whose anger instead turns into a physical condition – a slap here and there. Nobody is capable of seeing how their actions cause a ripple effect, how human darkness is passed down through generations. But so is the will to fight and love. In different ways the family members try to find a mutual place where they can love one another. This makes Shade and Breeze a complex, delicate and wistful debut. It deserves to be pulled into the light.

Sydsvenskan
Quynh Tran’s prose is vivid and cinematic, sensuous and full of images and descriptions that are both suggestive and alluring

The narrator’s ability to paint a landscape, to evoke an atmosphere and a course of events become a type of image for how a story takes shape, how the author creates a setting for his narrative. A dream world where everything is possible /… / Shade and Breeze is a coming-of-age story that really captures the reader with its magnetism, sensibility and sensitivity /… / Quynh Tran’s prose is vivid and cinematic, sensuous and full of images and descriptions that are both suggestive and alluring /… / An elegant and impressive debut.

Svenska YLE
Quynh Tran portrays the family ties as both a strength and a shackle, and the immigrant’s eternal homelessness

What exactly is a family? Finno-Vietnamese writer Quynh Tran introduces a Vietnamese immigrant family of three in the Finnish town of Jakobstad. There’s the mother, Má, the oldest son, Hieu, and the youngest son, the narrator, who is never named. They move in different directions and there are plenty of conflicts. They have very different attitudes to success: Má wants to earn lots of money and live the good life, young teenager Hieu dreams of Finnish girls – especially redhead Laura – and the narrator, the youngest son, has just realised that his scholastic efforts cause quite a stir. What is the glue that binds them together? The culture? The language? Their shared sense of alienation? They exist in some sort of a bubble within the Finnish society: they keep to themselves, and the Finns are equally standoffish towards them. With a great sensibility for details and a subdued, evocative prose, Quynh Tran portrays the family ties as both a strength and a shackle, and the immigrant’s eternal homelessness.”

Vi Läser

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